News / Africa

US Lawmaker to Obama: Phone Kiir on South Sudan Crisis

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
U.S. Congressmen and a top rights activist have called for the United States to step up its diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in South Sudan, including by getting President Barack Obama to make a phone call to his counterpart in Juba, President Salva Kiir.

Congressman Chris Smith from the northeastern state of New Jersey said at a hearing on Capitol Hill that a phone call from Obama to Kiir would "signal level of interest and concern", and would go a long way to helping to defuse the crisis in the world's newest nation.

Obama sent a message of peace to South Sudan shortly after fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, in December, calling on the country's leaders The message was translated into the languages of the two main ethnic groups in the country.

But Obama has not phoned Kiir, and Smith urged him to do so now, with the conflict in South Sudan well into its third month.


U.S. Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan Donald Booth said at the hearing, held last Wednesday that a phone call between the two heads of state was  "certainly something that's on the table."

"We're calibrating when we need to use which official to try to move an issue at a particular time," Booth said in response to a question from Smith.

Obama would phone his South Sudanese counterpart "when we consider what will be the best way forward to move us off a sticking point or break any logjam" in the peace process, Booth said.



Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in nearly three months of fighting in South Sudan, which has continued unabated since a ceasefire agreement was signed at the end of January.

The conflict began in mid-December when a political power struggle in the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) party boiled over into clashes that Kiir said were a coup bid orchestrated by former vice president Riek Machar.

Machar has denied the accusation and has been in hiding since the unrest erupted on Dec. 15.

A first round of peace talks led to the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement. A second round, which got under way in early February, has not yet produced any significant results.

Smith told VOA a phone call from Obama would "let them know that we're watching." He added that the time for a call from the U.S. president was now because the situation in South Sudan was not improving, with major aid agencies pulling out of embattled towns.



Top U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast of the Enough Project, an NGO that seeks to end genocide and crimes against humanity, said the United States needs to launch a 'diplomatic surge' in South Sudan and Sudan.

U.S. human rights advocate John PrendergastU.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
x
U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
U.S. human rights advocate John Prendergast
"We need more senior figures... any of the three or four former secretaries of state -- Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton -- any of those people to be deployed just to demonstrate American resolve, American interest  in the resolution of the conflicts in those two countries," he said.

Prendergast said that sending top U.S. officials to South Sudan would help to drive home the message  to the warring sides that there will be consequences for continuing the fighting.

"Right now, the calculations of the warring parties are that they can achieve their objectives on the battlefield," Prendergast told VOA after the hearing.

"We have to steer them away from that" and one way to do that would be to "send people they respect... who can say, 'There's got to be another way to address the political disputes than going to war'," he said.


Congressman Frank Wolf, who has advocated in Congress for greater U.S. action to resolve the ongoing crises in the two Sudans, said he wants the White House to enlist the aid of Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, to try to bring peace to South Sudan.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
x
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in his trademark cowboy hat, which was a gift from former U.S. President George W. Bush.

"President Bush and his team forged lasting relationships with Salva Kiir and the South Sudanese leadership and would be well positioned... to engage in diplomacy and rebuilding efforts at this critical time," Wolf told the hearing, noting that Bush gave Kiir his "trademark black cowboy hat."

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mawienmarko from: Warrap state
March 05, 2014 9:09 AM
US ruling government shuold stop supporting the rebels loyal to Dr Riak and warn them against atrocites they are always committing against the civillians in South Sudan

by: bejanybenjamin from: kampala
March 04, 2014 1:34 AM
The solution to end the long conflict war is the resignation of the kiir

by: Dominique from: canada
March 03, 2014 11:02 PM
South Sudanese are fed up of these leaders. Neither Kiir nor Machar will bring democracy in south Sudan. Atrocities have already been committed by both sides including Uganda and soon Rwanda and Burundi to come to south Sudan to kill and protect the interest of the so called Kiir. We need a neutural government not dectators
In Response

by: Tiger Lueth from: USA
March 04, 2014 11:56 AM
Riek Machar is known by all the South Sudanese as devil worshiper need to be lockup'he's no good.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More